Say hello to the third mum in my Twelve Mums Of Christmas series – Jo Morrell. Jo is a glossy magazine publisher and media consultant, currently on maternity leave and spending lots of time with her three sons Sidney 4, Harvey 2 and 8 month old Albert. I quizzed Barnes-based Jo about achieving that mum/me balance that we all crave so much. Here, she reveals her secrets…
Jo, how do you achieve a balance between family time and me-time?
“I plan as much as I can to make sure I spend a decent amount of time with everyone! Hubby and I have a date night every Wednesday and we stick to it pretty religiously. Then every week, I make sure I take each of the boys swimming so they have time with me on their own. As for my own time, that’s rarely planned – I just have to take the opportunity to sneak off, if and whenever it arises!”
Where are your top five places to go for some me-time?
1. “My first choice would be to go somewhere to do exercise – the gym, yoga, a run or a swim. What I do depends on how much time I have, the weather and how well I’ve been sleeping recently. Then I have a sauna afterwards. I find the warmth of a sauna is the most comforting and relaxing thing there is.”
2. “I love going somewhere to be pampered, but where I can make the most of the time and double up on treatments like have a blow dry and manicure at the same time (at Daniel Galvin) or a mani/pedi and a glass of wine with my best friend (at Cowshed).”
3. “I go for a drive through Richmond Park, take a coffee from the shop across the road and the book I need to finish for bookclub, stop and watch the deer, use the time to clear my head, make a list, make an important call, or just finish a chapter of the book.”
4. “I like to take myself out for lunch and do the Times sudoku or crossword to try to keep my brain in working order. I used to do this while I was breastfeeding, especially if I thought I would be there for some time!”
5. “I mess around online at home! I’ll get the essential jobs done first (bank transfers, Ocado, emails, holiday research) and then have a nose around Facebook, update my blog, check out my Klout score (and try to understand what on earth that means.)”
You have a child-free hour at home. What do you do?
“It really depends how industrious vs how tired out I’m feeling. I clear emails, sort out stuff for charity shops, catch up on last episode of Homeland or The Killing, make my boys favourite carrot cake, have a bath or have a nap!”
Best place to eat in London with the kids? And best place to eat without the kids?
“Giraffe for weekend brunch with the boys – the one on the Southbank in London is our current favourite. if the weather is good it’s a great place to spend a Sunday morning. If I’m eating out child-free, I’d always choose to go for afternoon tea – maybe at the Wolseley or the Berkeley. Our local Orange Pekoe is good – where you now have to fight the Japanese tourists for your scone and accompanying earl grey as it’s become so popular.”
What’s the best piece of advice about being a mum you’ve been given?
“Why try to be a perfect mum and put pressure on your kids to be perfect too? Be yourself and do whatever you think is best at the time. I was also once told if you have boys, feed them every three hours and make sure they’ve had a good run around. If there’s something wrong, put them on the loo, then in the bath and then to bed!”
Do you think working mums will ever truly break through the ‘nappy ceiling’?
“Well, since women will probably continue to have children, I think it will remain an issue. I know very few working women, even the real high flyers whose professional eye hasn’t been taken off the ball in some way as a result of motherhood. In some ways like adding any other activity into your life, you have to make the time to fit it in, and you have to compromise, and that means you can’t be 100% focused on work in the way you maybe once were. However, we are very adaptable creatures and over time and with the right support (very important, and I am incredibly lucky here) many women do find a way to get a balance that they and their family are happy with. I think those who ditch the guilt are one step ahead, and I wish I was one of them.”
What’s your favourite family Christmas tradition?
“After my brother does brunch, we do the Christmas morning jigsaw with the help of a glass of bucks fizz. Many hands make light work, you know, and we can often get it done before turkey time!”
All images courtesy of Jo Morrell, Richmond Park and Orange Pekoe